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The Myth of "Normal"

When I was young, I envied those who told breath-catching testimonials of how they came to Christ. I  listened, enraptured, to stories featured on our local religious radio station and dreamed of how thrilled God must be with these dramatically-acquired souls. Many met Him in death-defying places; others spoke of time in prison or gang life, and how God transformed them into amazing teachers or evangelists of the gospel. I hung on every word, and then slowly returned to the dishes or laundry or the care of my younger siblings—my own daily reality.

My parents said that I always wanted adventure—an observation implying bad, branding me with the label "discontent".

In hindsight, I think that I wanted to matter. We read Martyr’s Mirror, and my thoughts drifted to foreign lands, where somehow I took the place of innocent young women patiently waiting their fates—my fate—while remaining faithful and devoted to God. And while sore fingers scratched page after page of stories in faded gray pencil, my characters reflected the inner angst that yearned to do something great for God—something glorious, that made Him say, “Well done.” I wanted approval. I wanted that certain air of pride that comes, not from selfish ambition, but rather from the sense that “She’s mine. And that is a good thing.” I wanted to matter, to have a purpose, and to make a difference—yet it seemed that every day was exactly the same.

This post has been on my mind for some time. In every movement and every culture—religious or otherwise—there are extremes. Within the homeschooling, conservative, and Quiverfull world, there are some families who go to great lengths to observe dogmatic, legalistic, and austere patriarchal standards. These are the ones who often gain national attention as the waves of public interest ebb and flow, inciting controversy and awareness of "peculiar" lifestyles and beliefs.

However, there are others within this Christian sub-culture—typical, traditional families, with perhaps a few non-mainstream practices. Not often found on the covers of magazines or the subject of articles or books, many are still well-known and well-liked within their church and community. Perhaps they aren't dresses-only; some do not live on a farm, others might have "only" 3 or 4 children. Some home-school, yet participate in local sports or other extra-curricular activities. Those who relate will understand clearly.

No one has hurt me, so why do I feel hurt?

Daughters within these conservative yet non-extreme households face a unique challenge that I believe is not shared by their more dogmatic sisters. Many of the same emotional and spiritual struggles which arise from this lifestyle impinge them as well, but with a twist that can potentially crush life from the spirit.

These young women feel that since their external situation or lifestyle is not that "bad", it would be fraudulent to acknowledge the mystifying internal effects that such an upbringing can have. They embrace denial rather than admitting pain. Using phrases such as, "Well, that doesn't apply to me," or "That's not how it happened in my family" tends to dismiss deep, lurking, real hurts which need the healing touch of Christ.

A lovely young wife and mother writes:
“. . .my story was far from extreme, yet I have the same wounds from the same lies as the extreme cases. But they're harder to identify. My parents said things like "You have a rebellious heart", "You're going to lead all your siblings astray", "If this were God's will for you, He would tell us", " You should want to spend time with your family more than your friends", " You're too independent" etc. They used guilt and the Bible to keep me from going to college, from getting married . . .Then when I still chose to do those things, they acted like I had rejected God and our family. We were forced to wear dresses because "beauty is dangerous and you could defraud your brother". And on it went. Yet, on the outside, we didn't look too different, except for our dress. My dad was a teacher in the church and my mom very active in our church community. They counseled many families and many marriages. We went everywhere and had every opportunity you could imagine. But on the inside, our hearts were broken and there was much fear, shame, and guilt.”
The myth of “normal”

It is an identity crisis. The roots are the same—shame, fear and guilt—but they are made much more insidious by the choking fog of confusion. How can you acknowledge something you can’t identify? How do you verbalize something you can’t explain or understand? It is like watching blood slowly trickle down your arm and yet not find a scratch or mark. This is very disorienting—there is no apparent source. One is left troubled and aching, without knowing why—and especially not knowing how to address the issue and seek healing.

Those who have born years of emotional and spiritual abuse, neglect, shame, and depression find it easier to brush all aside when external factors do not make sense. It is easier to succumb to pressures that insist you are making it all up, that you are crazy and imagining things, or that the problem lies within you. The reality of alone-ness is compounded knowing that those closest to your family would not believe you, if you told them what you feel and what has been said or done; when you consistently hear, "What good kids you have!" gushed to your parents; when your family is held up as a model of virtue or shining example; when your parents think you are either over-dramatic or simply can't understand your own conflicting emotions. This internalizes, and places another layer of shame and confusion upon a slowly withdrawing heart. It must all be me--hormones, or something, you might tell the pain which dwells within, effectively shutting her up for one more day.

When we strip all away, a foundation rife with falsehoods can be often found at the core of our being. Believing these lies exacerbates all of the problems; until the light of Jesus illuminates error and transforms the heart, symptoms will only grow worse. Possible lies which may become ingrained into one's mind—and therefore blanketed across every element of life—could be:

Physical abuse is worse than emotional abuse, so I shouldn't feel this bad
• I am stupid for feeling like this; there is no reason for it
• I just need to get over this--whatever it is
• I am just under a spiritual attack
• Others have it worse so I should just be thankful and pray the depression goes away
• I must not be reading my Bible enough
• It's not like I am being beaten or going hungry or anything, so. . .*shrug*
• It's no big deal

It is amusing when little children insist they are not tired. Yet they go willingly to bed after gentle reminders that they didn't take a nap, that their eyes will not stay open, and that they are face down in their mashed potatoes. It is similarly ironic when those who insist they are well, but flushed cheeks, warm skin, glassy eyes and lethargy indicate fever.

Have you ever staunchly refused to believe something until finally faced with a list of symptoms, the truth is undeniable?

Even if your family appears non-extremist—normal—within this conservative movement, if you are exhibiting the symptoms of deep, serious issues, I beseech you to sit with these things in stillness and prayer before God, asking Him to reveal to you what it is that you need to know. It is my humble belief that God desires truth to be known by you—the truth of the source of your pain. Abuse is abuse—whether it is physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual—and all of it grieves the heart of God. Minimizing it and shrugging it away does not honor God nor does it bring the healing that He longs for you to have. Wait on Him and His timing, trusting that whatever it is you find He will give you strength to bear. In the meantime, He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Signs and times


In most cases, symptoms and features indicate that something is wrong. In our fallen world, peopled by sinful creatures who bear the image of God and yet tarnish His name, the sad reality is that we have all been hurt at some point in our lives. When these wounds are caused by those meant to protect, nourish, and love us the most, we bear the most excruciating pain. Our loyal tendency is to excuse and dismiss hurtful actions—“They were just doing the best they could,” or “It’s okay,” or “That was so long ago; I don’t even really remember that,” or “I was just a baby.”

As I have written before, forgiveness does not mean its okay. Forgiveness is a separate issue; forgiving someone who has wronged you—while a godly spiritual discipline—does not miraculously ameliorate the scars inflicted upon you. That is the work of our Heavenly Father—who sometimes allows symptoms to smolder under the surface, occasionally erupting until they become present enough to sustain your attention.

It is here, into the pain, that our Savior invites you. Here, into the darkness, where His light can shine. Here, into the brokenness, where His hands can heal. Here, into the unknown, so that He can become known.

It is here we learn that we have significance.

It is here that He meets us, in our woundedness and vulnerability, in the shame of our nakedness, in the raw and the wild. It is here that He is glorified, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness. In the secret shadows of pain He infuses the light of His truth—redeeming, revealing, and restoring.

If you feel as though you are the proverbial “middle child” within Christian culture—not as extreme as some, yet more conservative than others—and stumble trying to find your voice among the confusing messages you receive, take heart, dear sister. You have been created and chosen, as you. Your wounds and your words have equal validity. You matter dearly to God, and He has a purpose for you. Perhaps your testimony will not elicit ooohs and ahhhs from the congregation; likely you will not become a martyr from foreign lands. As you dwell faithfully however, daily showing your devotion to God, it is quite possible that somewhere, your story might grant an exhausted young woman in the midst of dishes and laundry to catch her breath in hope—and keep going for just one more day.

What is Patriocentricity?

Patriocentricity ~

* Taken from the Latin and Greek root word "patr" meaning father and the word "centric" meaning "situated at or near the center."

* The term was specifically coined to describe the philosophy of family life promoted within some extreme Christian and Reformed homeschooling communities that teaches that God gives a "calling" in life to only men, specifically fathers, and that the purpose of the wife and children is to fulfill the father's calling.

* Those who embrace this position believe that it changes only when a son assumes his own household responsibilities by taking a wife or a daughter is given in marriage when she can then leave her father's home, her new purpose being to fulfill the calling of her husband.

* Though there are varying degrees of this taught within different groups, the father is sometimes described as the "prophet, priest, and king" of the home and there are other common ideals that often accompany patriocentricity, such as militant fecundity, family integrated church, neo-feudalism, as well as neo-agrarianism.


- Karen Campbell, thatmom

A Quiverfull of Thoughts

Due to the fresh attention to the Quiverfull lifestyle and recent publication of the book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce, there are a few things I'd like to address.

The Quiverfull movement at large is based on the verse in Psalm 127 which states:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Many proponents see this as a call to bear an army for the Lord by raising a multitude of those who will call upon His name. In the war against culture—so prevalent within Evangelical and Fundamentalist circles—the understanding is that through sheer numbers of godly offspring, our culture can be redeemed in the name of Christ. In the interest of balance, I would like to issue a humble reminder.

2 Corinthians 10
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. . . .For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; 15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment.
17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

Ephesians 6
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

These Scriptures remind us that the war on culture, this spiritual battle against the principalities, powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this age, cannot be waged through the efforts of the flesh. It is essential to remain vigilant, for the enemy who prowls like a lion comes many times cloaked in righteous attire. When we lose focus upon the crux of our mission, replacing the commandments of Jesus Himself with that which has the appearance of holiness, the enemy has secured a victory, as temporary as it may be.

I do not suggest that all who ascribe the Quiverfull mindset do so with misplaced focus; however in our eagerness to live righteously, it is easy to fall into the trap of man-established doctrine and thus lose sight of the mandates which God has revealed through His Son.

Dear sisters—I know this presents a conflict within the soul, a battle if you will. Let this struggle be a vessel to draw you nearer to the heart of our Lord as you seek His will and His words. As you strive to lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares, keep in mind that sin is anything that keeps us from God—or that from which, other than God, we derive our sense of life, security, or peace. For those raised within paleoconservative households, often this can take shape as religious "doings" or "not doings". To examine deeply and intensely the heart, motivations, and purposes for these things requires faith--but is this not one of the core philosophies of the Quiverfull movement?

Your faith will be rewarded; be comforted that you are known before God.

1 John 3
For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
Redeeming the Blessing

In addition to "faith", another word that is commonly uttered with regards to the Quiverfull movement is "blessing". "Children are a blessing!" "Why would anyone reject the blessings of the Lord?" "We will take all of the Lord's blessings that we can."

I rejoice that there are those who regard human life as a gift from God; in truth, the sanctity of life is the most precious gift He can bestow—to grant a soul the opportunity to reflect His image in bodily form. What an exquisite honor and privilege!

My deep concern is that for many, the term blessing remains just that: a word. For scores of children, both young and old, sons and daughters, this adage is belied through subtle messages which infer:

  • you are a blessing only if you are a baby ("terrible twos", rambunctious pre-teens, and moody teenagers can be burdensome)
  • you are a blessing only if you obey instantly
  • you are a blessing only if you behave
  • you are a blessing only if you make us proud
  • you are a blessing only if you honor us
  • you are a blessing only if you perform well
  • you are a blessing only if you believe the way we believe
  • you are a blessing only if you pursue our vision
  • you are a blessing only if you don't ask questions
  • you are a blessing only if you are compliant
  • you are a blessing only if . . .
These are the shackles of death.

Curses

These inferences cause shame and fear to become rooted both deeply and unconsciously in the heart. Maturing "arrows", who reap the sighs and tears and mournful manipulations of parents towards the very personhood of their being can attest to the darkness and the torment which wrestles secretly within their souls. Curses, rather than blessing, they are. What a paradox! Seeds which are sown upon ripe young earth germinate and become the curses and burdens that are faced by many young adult and adult daughters: guilt, shame, low self-esteem, co-dependency, sense of inadequacy, self-hatred, denial, fear, and lack of motivation.

There are many portals through which shame can be introduced to the being of a child; it is impossible to suggest all the ways this can happen. A common method can be, surprisingly, prayer uttered aloud. "Lord, help Sarah to realize she needs to deny herself and surrender her rebellious ways. Forgive her for______." Alternatively, some other subtle ways are the deep sighs that occur, the disappointed shake of the head, and even talking about the child in front of others as though she doesn't exist: "What are we going to do with her, dad? She just doesn't get it" and so forth.

This does not imply, of course, that young adults are perfect or sinless--yet as impressionable creations of God, it is vital for parents to recognize that they are still tender and young. Even when a father or mother wishes to rip out what hair is left upon their own head.

In her blog Under Much Grace, Cindy Kunsman, RN, BSN, ND writes a thought-provoking message to parents who subscribe to the 'children as arrows' mentality:
With the imagery of children as arrows in the hand of the Lord, consider that they are in His hand and not in your hand. The Lord of Hosts aims and shoots those arrows, perhaps at targets that you would protest or perhaps ones that may even bring you great shame in your own flesh. But He is their maker and He is the archer that sends your children to the place and calling that He intends for them. Though children are arrows in the hand of the Lord and He blesses the man whose quiver is indeed full, what is the chief purpose of an arrow? Is it to remain in the quiver only? Is it only an ornament for the man who bears the quiver on his back? Or is the chief purpose and end of an arrow to be at the ready in the quiver for only a time? And should that arrow not be designed well, not to accommodate the convenience of the quiver but to be fit as a most effective weapon, designed to accomplish His intended purpose with expert precision as its Sovereign Designer intended?

For those dear daughters who have grown up within Quiverfull families and to whom these words strike a chord, I would like to leave a few closing thoughts.

1) A gentle reminder: all Quiverfull households are not as extreme as some. There are those who live balanced and humble lives, quietly maintaining their convictions with Christ as the center, while the father exhibits the servanthood of Jesus, who washed the feet of His disciples.

2) For the rest, who relate with alacrity the subtle messages of condemnation rather than blessing, know this: you are not forgotten before God. Your tears, your weariness, your doubts and confusion—He sees. He knows the dichotomy which tears within your spirit: the desire to follow Christ at war with the teaching and training you have received. Trust that He is bigger than your fears, bigger than your doubts, bigger than your questions, and He does not fault you for them.

3) He has promised wisdom to those who ask, and to be found by those who seek.
He has come to heal, to set free, and to bring light. . . ."work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Phil. 2 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32

Holiness?

Note: This is a companion post to Heart Keepers.


And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 1Tim 6:8

We were born with basic needs. To survive, our bodies need food and water. We need clothing and shelter. Asceticism and austerity are often preached as holy living; extreme self-denial manifested among many aspects of legalism and man-made tradition.


1 Cor. 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

Colossians 2:20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Food, clothing, shelter . . . and coffee?


Many of us wither under guilt for daring to consider anything other than these very basic necessities as true needs. I want to know: when did holiness come to partially be defined as basic survival? To see how little we can get away with, and still exist? Why is it considered not as holy to thrive and to flourish?

Here is a common passage of Scripture used to justify these things:

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Others believe that to acquire more than the elemental needs in life leads to materialism and focus on unrighteous pursuits. Did you often hear the phrase, "Do without!" during your life? It can become almost a challenge for some, to see how little they can get by upon. Some, like the Amish, forgo electricity and other modern "conveniences." Others argue, we don't NEED electricity to survive; we don't NEED telephones, or running water, or new shoes. Some go so far as to imply that if we want something, it is automatically material for self-sacrifice and therefore our wants reflect innate carnality.

This mentality is not limited to physical manifestation. These very ideals are blanketed across the entire personhood of those born into such environments--in this case, the daughters of emotionally abusive parents.

Steve Hein, a humanist who works with suicidal teens and founder of Eqi.org, has created a list of what he considers basic human emotional needs. Prayerfully consider some of what he has to say. Whether or not you agree with his philosophies, this is something that I believe the Church needs to address.

Here are some of the basic human emotional needs expressed as feelings. While all humans share these needs, each differs in the strength of the need, just as some of us need more water, more food or more sleep. One person may need more freedom and independence, another may need more security and social connections. One may have a greater curiosity and a greater need for understanding, while another is content to accept whatever is told to him.

In various degrees, each according to his or her own unique nature, we each have a natural emotional need to feel:
accepted
acknowledged
admired
appreciated
approved of
believed in
capable
challenged
clear (not confused)
competent
confident
forgiven
forgiving
free
fulfilled
heard
helped
helpful
important
in control
included
listened to
loved
needed
noticed
powerful
private
productive / useful
reassured
recognized
respected
safe / secure
supported
treated fairly
trusted
understandng
understood
valued
worthy
--Steve Hein
In our righteous zeal to break away from the world, I believe that we lose sight of the balance that is important to sustain the health of our minds, hearts, souls, and bodies. Just as God's gift of sex is good, yet has become tainted by our culture, I believe that these emotions and feelings are necessary to our wholeness as women created by God, even if secular teachers have elevated them to improper heights. Do not underestimate the exigence of these things; our merciful Savior can both save and redeem what He has created and instilled within us.

Please do not make God a liar by ascetically insisting that these are not good, and not vital to life. Do not deny the blessings that these can bring upon you--as well as the discipline, for those of us emotional creatures know full well the paradoxical nature of these things.

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

How is your emotional life?

Have you been robbed of an abundant heart?

As daughters of God, I believe that He delights when we flourish before Him and live with passion and feeling. To exult in your womanhood and to offer yourself a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, are not mutually exclusive. Dear sister, live! For the glory of God, live!



Heart Keepers

Jeremiah 17:9 “ The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?"

This verse was reiterated time and time again throughout my coming into womanhood. I was an astral child who loved to write and create and to be surrounded by loveliness; a voracious reader who dreamed in color. Feelings-oriented and emotional, my artistic soul gradually came to understand that these things were the backbones of deception. Slowly I adopted the conflicting message that for some reason, God made me the way I was--and yet it was not godly to be that way.

I learned that it was not safe to be me. It was not safe to whisper what I felt or thought, not safe to share the words which inked their way across lined pages in swirling eddies, while tears splattered from lashes. I shut myself inside, torn over guilt and confusion. Why had God allowed me to be born, when He knew I would be this wicked, by feeling and emotionalizing to such an intense degree? If He created me to be unique, loved, and special, with my own personality and interests and abilities, like others told me, why would such things as stupid and evil as I was led to believe?

I, an emotional young woman, was my own worst spiritual enemy.

My father loved to quote a line from an old Bogart movie, The African Queen . . .
“Human nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we were put on this earth to overcome.”
Had God made me an emotional person so that I could learn to overcome myself? And so, my mission: to learn to rise above the callings of the flesh which manifested daily through the passion and exuberance of living, through tears and poetry, and by such catch phrases such as I feel and I want and I need. Others knew best what I needed; the Bible revealed what I should want, and feelings were just plain bad.


Disclaimer

Less anyone think that I advocate rampant emotions or that one should let feelings govern our lives, let me hasten to add that this is not the case. I believe there should be balance. From experience I have found that many authoritarian families discount these with heady zeal and religious fervor; it is to those who have been abused in this manner that I address my remarks.

Emotional abuse is not limited to women or patriocentricity. Men and women everywhere hide deep voids where intimidation, lack of validation, berating, degrading, manipulation, fear, or shame have worn away any sense of healthy self worth or esteem. Although I address the subject of emotional abuse towards daughters who ache from the devastating consequences of unbalanced religious and patriarchal upbringing, many other wounded hearts will find that these words apply.

Eqi.org (a secular site) has developed a test to help determine how well your emotional needs have been met. As you read the following questions, consider how you would have answered while you were young . . .
Do you feel secure in all major areas of your life?

Do you feel you receive enough attention?

Do you give other people enough attention?

Do you feel in control of your life most of the time?

Do you feel connected to some part of the wider community?

Can you obtain privacy when you need to?

Do you have an intimate relationship in your life (one where you are totally physically and emotionally accepted for who you are by at least one other person)?

Do you feel emotionally connected to others?

Do you feel you have status that is acknowledged?

Are you achieving things and feeling competent in at least one major area of your life?

Are you mentally and/or physically being stretched in ways that give you a sense that life is meaningful?

The answers to these will give distinct hints as to the homeostasis of your youth. If you find that many still apply today, know that it is to you that Jesus has come--the son of God, whose ministry is is to free the oppressed and mend the hearts that have been scarred along the way.

Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.

Those who are from a Quiverfull family know the distinct philosophy which states according to the book of Psalms that children are a blessing and a heritage from the Lord. How many of us have felt that we are a blessing only if we conform to the image of our earthly parents, and their ideals of what a good daughter should be? Or that perhaps we were a blessing as a child, but as we grow and mature, begin to question and develop the mind God has given us, that we become more of a burden than a blessing? A source of grief and shame? A trouble maker or problem child?

As we wrestle with these things which are burdens themselves, the subtle inferences and manipulations become ingrained into the core of our being. What we learn from this is akin to emotional abandonment. We have been taught Proverbs 4:23, Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. This is true. The heart is known as the seat of our emotions; why is it that all to often we bear the responsibility to guard it so, and yet be subjected to all kinds of emotional onslaught?

As women created in the image of God, we bear a soul, a spirit, a mind, and a body. Each of these have the ability to reflect Him, to love Him, and to bring Him glory. Thus recognize the truth of the situation: as His creation, proclaimed good, and redeemed through His Son, the elements that make us who we are can all be celebrated as gifts from the Father for expressing our identity in Him.

This includes our emotions.

If you labor under the weight of teachings which have overemphasized that feelings, responsiveness, sensitivity, and the like are just the result of human nature or sinful flesh, here is a raw, gaping wound that needs the healing presence of Christ. Do I mean that significant choices should be based on feeling? No. We need to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, pray earnestly, and search the Scriptures for guidance. As believers however, and filled with the Spirit of God, we need to learn discernment through what He has given us. This takes time and practice, for it is an undoing of that which we have always done. It requires faith. Just as it would be unwise to rely solely upon our emotions regarding a matter, it would also be unwise to omit them in life, as though proclaiming bad what God has affirmed and bestowed to be good. To live in this manner denies His character and exalts ourselves dangerously.

Signs and Symptoms of Emotional Abuse

Consider the following; many of these items are always present in occurrences of emotional harm:

  • excessive criticism
  • refusal to provide unconditional acceptance or love
  • high expectations with a sense that they are rarely met
  • denigration
  • chronic disapproval
  • humiliation
  • isolation
  • worthlessness
  • rejection
  • invalidation
  • hatred
  • ignoring, or neglect
  • lack of verbal affirmation
  • mis-use

For more: Types of Emotional Abuse

It can be a tumultuous journey to begin to learn how to live emotionally free. Overcoming the shaming and hurtful messages of our past are only finished through the work of God our healer. Rest in the knowledge that He wants you to taste and see that He is good; that the life He offers abundantly has plenty of room for expression. Your feelings are what bring brilliance to the skeleton of life--through emotion, our world comes alive. Stifling these as ungodliness perpetuates the errors of a faulty creed.

As you continue to seek wholeness in your life, I beseech you to petition our loving and gracious heavenly Father to teach you the proper balance for incorporating these things back into your heart. Come to Him, with the wonder and heart of a child; for of such is the Kingdom of God.
___________________________________________________________________
edited to add links

Lifting Hearts

Today I would like to share an eloquent prayer that a dear friend laid before the Father on behalf of those who ache with confusion, oppression, and all kinds of turmoil. I pray that it blesses you. I have changed any identifying information for anonymity.


I just opened up Ephesians 3, and am just in awe of the security and hope He offers:

"(In Christ) we have boldness and confident access to Him
through our faith"!!! (v.12)

"14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom EVERY FAMILY (so relevant to our situations!!!) in heaven and on earth derives it's name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up TO ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Lord, I pray theses verses over this woman right now, Lord. I ask that You are able to pour out Your heart for her that you have revealed to us in these words so that she is able to fully comprehend every beautiful truth that is so rich in these verses.

Lord, Your love and sovereignty is far beyond what we could ever imagine, yet You offer it to us ABUNDANTLY!!! Please open the eyes of our hearts so that we can fully see all that You long to shower on us. I know I settle for far less more days than not. I want to know this fullness that you offer. I want to see it fulfilled in every girl who is longing for You and YOUR fullness right now.

Please open up the floodgates of Your wisdom and knowledge to these girls right now. Please instill in them the confidence that You have in them; for you've granted us BOLD, CONFIDENT ACCESS TO YOURSELF!!!! You have confidence that we can approach the King of the Universe! And Lord, for the many moments that all we can see are our failings and faults, remind us that You delight to show your strength just there, for in our weakness You are strong.

For the moments that we grieve over lost opportunities, come with Your power to show Yourself as our Redeemer, the Lord who is able to restore that which the locusts have eaten. You, Who are able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or imagine! You, Who have chosen US to be Your Hands and Feet. You, Who have seen every poor choice we've made, every pain we've endured, every moment we wish to never revisit. You God, You alone are able to do all these things,
and it is nothing we can do.

Right now Lord, I ask that you reach into the hearts of all the parents and every daughter caught in these chains, that you would loosen them and set the captives free, that hope would be restored to their spirits, and that they would know that they can come unto You with their weariness and heavy burdens and truly know the rest You long to give them. Lord, I thank You now for how You will answer these prayers now and over the coming months and years. Please keep us on our knees before You, alert and watching and prayerful.
Please pour out Your heart on these girls right now.

IN THE NAME OF OUR MERCIFUL SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST,

AMEN.

The Curse of Eve . . . When Free Will Isn't Free

When I first got married, one of the things that called for great patience on behalf of my husband was my indecisiveness. Seemingly innocuous things—"Where do you want to go for dinner?"—rendered me completely incapacitated for voicing any sort of opinion.

"It doesn't matter; wherever you want," I would reply. I did have preferences, yes, but I had learned to always set them aside for the desires of another.

My poor husband would smile through clenched teeth and answer, "Just tell me what you want."

Why was that so hard?

The following reasons all contributed to this, for me.

  • Low self-esteem and sense of worthlessness. Your opinions, wants and desires do not matter.
  • Learned false humility. Be like Jesus! Consider all others as better and more important than yourself.
  • Learned false-generosity/over-spiritualizing. Be giving. Let others choose what they want to do. It's okay to be last/least/sacrificial.
  • Reinforcement of past poor choices or decisions. You make foolish choices. You need to think! You are not being smart!
  • A learned sense that at the core, I truly do NOT have a choice in the matter.

I have written to some extent regarding self-esteem and low self-worth. I plan to explore humility and over-spiritualizing in a future posting; today I wish to discuss the last bullet point which is the learned sense that when all is stripped away, we often find that we truly do not have free choice, or that it includes such devastating consequences it is obvious that free choice is not the intention of those in authoritarian control.

Bait and Switch

"You are not held here against your will," Annie's parents said, shaking their heads with a scoff. "You know you are free to leave whenever you want."

Annie hung her head, the tip of a worn shoe peeking out from her long blue dress. She tried to think of words, but all of the emotion inside her heart could not find coherent sound. A hot tear snuck down her cheek. How could she explain what she felt?

"Why are you crying?" The impatient voice of her father pierced her consciousness. "If it's what you want to do, we won't stop you."

Annie's lip trembled. "But if I do, you will hate me." A life of pain lurked under those eight simple words. How could she verbalize all that God had shown her? All that she was learning?

"Annie, we won't hate you!" Her father was growing incensed while he spat the words. "We may think it's a bad idea, but that is between you and God now, as far as your mother and I are concerned. We just think you are making a serious mistake! You know we love you!"

Annie sighed, knowing full well what that meant . . . a loaded statement, for the Bible said to love one's enemies. Her wide-eyed brothers and sisters peeked through the doorway, silent and absorbing. She studied their scared little faces, her own heart aching.

"You have always been the one who hated the family," her mother accused softly. "What about your witness? I hope that the kids don't pick up your attitudes."

That was it. "That's not true!" Annie cried out, bursting forth into tears. Beneath the unflinchingly hard gaze of her father, her soul shriveled.

Help me God,
she wept. She knew that ever since her older sister had begun to question some of the doctrine her family believed, that their parents had all but cut her off from a relationship. About once a month, highly-supervised visits were tolerated. When her sister would leave at the end, the entire family was subject to a thorough sermon on the culture, worldliness, rebellion, and feminism that was rampant in the church. The night would end with hearty prayers that the wayward one would recognize the error of her ways, repent, and come home.

How could Annie explain that she felt as though she were dying for want of knowing Jesus more deeply? That hours upon her knees and in Scripture had raised doubts about the way they were living? How could she express how weary she was, even at the young age of 23? Yet anytime she tried to bring it up, her parents ranted that she was being deceived, and that if she weren't careful she would be responsible for leading her brothers and sisters astray since they looked up to her so much.

"We will pray you make the right decision," her mother interjected once more, sadness in her voice. She sighed deeply, mournfully; the sound burned Annie's ears.

Her father did not waver from his glare. Solemn tension could be tasted in the room. Even the toddler looked serious as he gripped his pillow on the floor. Annie's tears flowed.

"I have to follow God," she whispered, arms clasped tightly as a wave of coldness swept across her being.

Her father leaped to his feet, unleashed. "You have a rebellious heart!" he thundered, pacing towards her with fire. "The Bible says that God will give them over to delusion, to believe the lie!" He was unstoppable. "Just as Eve was deceived, so you are deceived! You just want the comforts and conveniences of the world!"

Annie glanced at her mother through her tears; a rapt expression was on the face of the one who bore her . . . admiration at this tower of strength who proclaimed his convictions with fervor.

Her father continued, ". . . So leave, if you want! Don't care about your brothers and sisters, or your poor mother, or what anyone else thinks! If you feel you need to do this, you go right ahead! I pray that God has mercy on you and that you will repent before it is too late!"

Is conditional choice free choice?


In the example of Annie, we see that her parents had allowed her to make her own decision regarding whether to move out, or not. And yet, let us examine the threats and subtle messages she received if she were to go ahead and do so:
  • she needs to repent
  • she is in error
  • she is selfish
  • she is hurting her family
  • she is deceived
  • she is rebellious
  • she is under delusion, believing a lie
  • she is worldly, and seeking worldliness
  • she is a disappointment
  • she brings sorrow
  • she is leading others astray
  • she is not hearing God

It is said that when one makes a choice, they are also choosing the consequences of what accompanies the decision. Likewise, when someone makes a choice, two are actually achieved: the person also actively chooses not to have the alternative. For instance, when a husband chooses who he wishes to marry, he is simultaneously choosing not to marry anyone else.

What I call: Baited Choice

The example I gave of Annie's struggle demonstrates just one of the hundreds of instances that arise within the lives of women within authoritarian, patriocentric families. She is presented with an opportunity to choose ("You go ahead!") and yet if a choice is made that is not supported by the family, one thing becomes clear:

free choice is really not intended within the heart of those who control.

To me, this lies on the side of deception. Others may determine that it is a legitimate case of choice and consequence, but consider the Bait and Switch tactic used by some advertisers. An attractive "sale" or "deal" (choice) is offered to lure a customer into a store. Once there, either the item is "no longer available", "sold out", or contains hidden fees or contracts upon purchase. Most of the time the goal is to sell a substitute item of higher price, thus creating expenditure that the customer was not expecting, prepared for, planning for, or wanting. In the end she might go ahead and still decide to make the purchase, but interestingly the practice of Bait and Switch is illegal and subject to legal recourse by consumers.

In similar vein, I believe that presenting a "choice" in such a manner that contains brutally devastating hidden expenditure on the mind, heart, body and soul of an adult daughter creates and causes offense to come to these women.

So what are parents wanting to "get" out of this?

I agree that many fathers and mothers truly only want what is best for their children. What motivation might some have to offer this type of baiting choice? Some reasons might include a legitimate fear that their child may become lost and degenerate. Others have a root of pride knowing that their family is a witness and therefore cannot allow any hint that anything is "wrong". Others cannot admit that they may be in error themselves. Some may feel pressure from organizations or church or friends to live a certain way, and when their offspring begin to question, they feel threatened because of it. Some parents take it as a personal affront when their children believe differently; some fear their grown child making mistakes. Some fear that they will lose control of additional children, and so must make the scapegoat or example out of the one they consider the Prodigal.

The root


While these parents have my sincere sympathy for the myriad struggles, heartaches, and 'drama' that they undoubtedly face, it is my humble opinion in the case of many, that a lack of faith in our heavenly Father lurks at the root of these things. Fear is entwined; fear that their child is deceived, or that they will be considered a poor parent by their peers, or fear of "how it looks" or of "what people will think". Some fear being a "poor" witness, because the lifestyle perpetuated by militant fecundity is done so in order to raise an army for the Lord, to transform our culture through the sheer numbers from those who follow a Quiverfull lifestyle.

Mark 4:39-41

39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”a]"> 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Most Quiverfull, authoritarian, and conservative families claim to live their lifestyle of choice out of trust and faith. I humbly submit that one area where trust and faith are not often demonstrated is, ironically, in the lives of adult children. I do not infer that it is easy, by any means, particularly if one's daughter makes choices that go against the parents' stated belief system—however, what better testimony not only to others but also to the children themselves, than to display the very real blood-and-guts aspect of true, living faith and trust in Almighty God? The Abba Father who loves the children of parents even more so than they could imagine loving them, themselves?

Paul reminds us that whatever is not from faith is sin.

Unfettered Choice


Have you ever been allowed to have a truly free choice? By "free" I mean: a choice that was independent of implied—
  • guilt
  • shame
  • disapproval
  • badness
  • ungodliness
  • selfishness
  • foolishness
  • worldliness
  • stupidity

Seriously; pause to think.

Often, the case is rare-to-never within patriocentric households. At first some may laugh, "Of course I made free choices!" but upon reflection, find that those who have experienced some form of authoritarian control or spiritual abuse cannot recall many instances where this is true.

Learning to choose


Sadly, this can be a debilitating, challenging exercise. Many women have become persuaded that due to the error of Eve, whose hands bear the consequences of deception, personal choices and decisions cannot be trusted.

James 1:4-6

4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit, and then trust that He will grant wisdom to you. The key is to ask in faith. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, we are reminded in Hebrews.

Practice making choices . . . this may sound elementary, but for adult women who have not been granted the freedom to actually make a real decision on their own, practicing is a vital step. Sometimes this will reap the consequences of a mistake which is anathema within authoritarian families, but it is not so with God. Mistakes are a crucial element of learning. I will go so far as to say in some cases, they must happen. Prolonging them out of fear 1) prevents growth 2) prevents healing 3) prevents learning 4) prevents faith.

Go with God

"What do you want?" asked my husband of me, many times. Through his gentle, patient, and sometimes humorous prodding, I began to realize that not only is it okay for me to have preferences and make choices, it can be a good thing; helpful, even, to others. It is healthy. I hope and pray that there are godly people in your life who encourage and help to guide you along this process. It is important to be surrounded by those who edify while you seek wholeness of mind, heart, soul, and body. There will be times that you will feel as though you stumble along, sometimes ungracefully . . . yet this is how one learns to walk. Walk, and then run! The Lord will be your strength! Trust in Him!


Isaiah 40

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.










The Weight of Honor

I have established the importance of acknowledging truth within relationships and the past. However, it is factual that there are times when the truth of something is so hideously ugly and shameful that our initial tendency is to shrug away some of the dark details and accept or present a slightly "enhanced", more palatable version.

This inhibits healing.

Today I would like to discuss one reason why I think it is natural for us to do this, and why it is so difficult to overcome.

We all have different degrees of abuse, hurts, and painful memories; we each are on very personal journeys in life with various degrees of "progress", for lack of a better term. For those of us raised with a strong Biblical foundation, fresh on our minds at all times--further twisting the guilt and struggle--is the concept and command to:

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:“that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Eph. 6

Honor.

How can we honor our parents while still acknowledging the truth of our pain and taking necessary steps to correct it?

April Lorier has written a very insightful article regarding honoring those who abuse:

How Do You Honor an Abusive Mother?
Today is Mother's Day and I've been thinking about the years of struggle I experienced as I tried to find ways of honoring my mother (who never wanted to be a mother). She was, after all, an abusive and self-centered mother, thanks, in part, to her own upbringing.
http://www.associatedcontent.comarticle/761225/how_do_you_honor_an_abusive_mother.html

What honor is not

Many--parents, even--think that to honor is synonymous with to obey. This is simply not the case; and Paul makes the distinction between obedience and honor in the beginning of Ephesians 6. I find it very interesting that Michael Pearl has written upon this subject in his article Patriarchal Dysfunctional Families, part 2: [It is well known that I do not endorse everything written by the Pearls but find this excerpt pertinent to this discussion.]
Honour your father and mother.
Men and women ranging in age from 18 to 80 are asking, “What does it mean to honor my father and mother?” The Patriarchal movement has capitalized on the misperception that honor means obey. The Scriptures are clear, there is no age limit on honoring your parents. In Matthew 15, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for not honoring their parents. But nowhere in the entire Bible is honor synonymous with obedience, and nowhere does the Bible even suggest that an adult should obey his parents. It speaks quite to the contrary.
Jesus said very plainly, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:35–37).
The Bible viewed in its entirety—not cherry-picked—throws a lot of light on the subject of honor to parents.

Foundational Passages.
The word honor (honour) is found in the Bible 146 times.
Following are the two Old Testament accounts of foundational passage on honoring your father and mother, and the New Testament reference and affirmation of the commandment.

Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Deuteronomy 5:16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Ephesians 6:2–3 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

God promised the Jews that if they would honor their parents (no age limit), they would continue to live in the Promised Land, but if their society failed to honor parents, they would be cast out of the land.

What it means to honor.
Leviticus 19:32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.
1 Samuel 15:30–31 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God. So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD.

Honor is Respect Due to a Person
Based On Any Consideration.

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

If honor implies obedience, or conformity to the will of the other, then a husband is to obey his wife.

Honor all men.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
1 Corinthians 12:23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

We know we are not to obey all men, but we are told to honor all men, so honor and obey are not synonymous. If honor were to equate with obedience, Samuel could not have honored Saul with his presence at the sacrifice.

Inappropriate honor.
Proverbs 26:1 As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
Proverbs 26:8 As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool. [It will come back and hit you in the head.]
Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. [An otherwise honorable person who commits folly stinks.]
“Honour to whom honour,” but no honor toward a fool, even if it is a parent. You honor your parents as the ones who gave you life and dedicated one fourth of their lives to nurturing you, but you shouldn’t lie and cheapen honor by being blind. A grown woman who honors a father who molested her and has never repented and sought restitution, that woman is binding a stone in a sling and flinging it with a certainty of it returning and hitting her in the head.

Jesus on honoring your father and mother.
Mark 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Jesus gives us a clear example of what it means to honor your parents. He was speaking to grown men in positions of spiritual leadership who found a loophole in the Jewish law which permitted them to abdicate their responsibility to care for their aging parents. They took their savings and, as it were, put it in an account labeled: “Dedicated to God.” Having done that, they couldn’t access it to spend on their needy parents. No doubt after the parents were dead, the money would be transferred to a retirement account for themselves.

Not honoring is:
• Cursing parents (Matthew 15:4).
• Withholding financial support (Matthew 15:5).
• Not doing for them when they are in need (Mark 7:12).
There is no mention of descendants obeying their parents—never.

Honor is:
• Being kindly affectionate (Romans 12:10).
• Seeking the good of the other (Romans 12:10—“preferring one another”).
• Respecting the office or position of a person (Romans 13:7).
• Bestowing more honor than their level of gifts suggest (1 Corinthians 12:23).

Bottom Line.
Ephesians 6:1 Children, [Those being brought up—Ephesians 6:4] obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour [Obedience and honor are separate issues.] thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. [Children, the ones who are to obey their parents, are being brought up—not yet adults.]
5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters [Parents are not masters; they are mentors, and children are not servants.] according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Obedience and honor are separate issues.
We know this to be true because:
• The words are spelled differently.
• They are never used interchangeably.
• The context in which they are used demonstrates a clear distinction.
• A distinction is made the only time the two words appear in close proximity.
(Ephesians 6:1–5). Children who are being brought up are to obey their parents (6:1). All are to honor their fathers and mothers (6:2). And servants are to be obedient to their masters (6:5). Different words, different meanings, different applications. It is all in the Word of God, but kept carefully separated and distinct from each other.
1 Peter 2:13–14 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
The language used here when commanding us to submit to government is conspicuously absent in those passages addressing the honoring of one’s parents. --Michael Pearl, No Greater Joy

Understanding that honor is not blind obedience means . . .

  • we are not bound to obey every word of our parents,* nor follow every doctrine to which they prescribe.
  • because we are called to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, it is my humble belief that this gives us the responsibility to be proactive in seeking God's heart and will for each of us, individually. Often this will take us in a different direction than which we were raised. This is not to say that our parents did not have anything of value to offer or to instill within us; however it does grant freedom to seek God directly to determine His will for our lives. I have known many women who are frozen by guilt and shame, thinking they are disobedient and rebellious towards God merely by questioning their parents. How sad this is, for often it holds us back from truly being the women He wants us to be!
  • we should consider what a huge responsibility we are under, to seek God directly! We answer to God alone for our souls; we cannot rely upon our parents for this! We do not have an excuse for the theological errors of others. With this is mind, think about how honoring it truly is for you to be actively pursuing a relationship with God through Christ; seeking truth and wholeness through the finished work of Jesus! What a testimony to your parents this is!
This brings up my point: just because some--parents or others--may not believe you bring honor through your life, doesn't mean that you are not. I exhort you to examine your heart and seek wisdom from God for His direction and leading. Many people have a preconceived idea of what honor is and yet unfortunately, sometimes they are incorrect.

I submit to you that:
serving God brings honor to your parents . . .
loving and obeying God brings honor to your parents . . .
living a life in accordance to His leading, brings honor to your parents . . .
loving your husband and others, brings honor to your parents . . .
seeking truth and wholeness brings honor to your parents . . .
. . . even if they disagree. Even if they think you are in error. Even if they look at you as though you are the lost sheep, keep you from your family, and speak ill of you.

You answer to God. May your life be pleasing to Him.

This does not mean that we do not need counsel and accountability. This does not mean that we cannot hear or receive the words given to us by others. My contention is that we are not under obligation to follow and live our lives according to the doctrines of others, but to take what we are given before God and to discover from Him that which we should keep, and that which should fall away. I am saddened when so many are held captive by the traditions of men, while our Heavenly Father offers so much! I am grieved when I see others who are oppressed by guilt and shame thinking they are rebellious for seeking the voice of God; when His voice sounds differently than their fathers, leaving tender souls spinning in confusion, agony, depression, and darkness.

1 John 3:20-22 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Regardless of the hurts and mistakes committed by the humans who brought you into the world, they have helped shape you into the person you are today. God can redeem and sanctify everything that you have experienced and your life can be a testimony to Him. I venture that at the heart, most patriarchal parents would say that their desire is for God to be glorified through their children. I believe that the difference comes through a disagreement over what exactly glorifies and honors God? Perhaps a difference in values, or Scriptural interpretation? Yet God is able to determine what brings Him glory; let Him be your guide.

In conclusion: is acknowledging truth a righteous thing to do, especially when truth leads to God's glory, and healing, even when truth hurts?

Are we called to live righteously before God?

For offspring to live righteously, is this not the utmost in honor for a parent; even when the parent does not agree with choices or decisions their child has made? God is the one who justifies. Let God determine what brings Him glory.


*It is assumed that my words are directed to, and read by, adult women.